Elements of Olmec Religious Beliefs and Practices

How did the Olmec people worship and how? They believed in a sky-based home to the gods, an underworld, and the ability of special priests or shamans to act as intermediaries between the gods and the people. As with many early religions, the multiple gods and goddesses that the people who lived in this part of Mesoamerica believed in were shown using interesting combinations of humanoid and animal figures. Their focus on the cosmos helped them create a precursor to the famous Mayan calendar, too.

Religious rituals focus on agriculture and in the early civilizations stressed the importance of various land features, as well. The Olmec people's religion could partially be described as a fertility cult. Other things that seem to be important to the practice of their spiritual beliefs included nearby caves in the mountainsides, games played with rubber balls, pyramid all structures, and highly polished stones that acted as mirrors for light and reflection. Some evidence that poison toad-induced hallucinations, due to bones of those species found at ceremonial sites, also played a role in the shaman's communion with the gods. Looking back through thousands of years, however, leave modern people unsure about when or where this concept began.